Why we’re opposed to draft constitution, by Northern delegates
Northern Delegates to the just concluded National Conference say their opposition to the draft constitution stemmed from the fact that it did not reflect the decisions of the conference.
The Northern Delegates also accused the leadership of the conference of manipulating the conference in favour of the South through the use of voice vote to arrive at decisions as against consensus or 75 percent votes as earlier agreed before the commencement of the conference plenary.
Spokesman for the Northern Delegates Forum, Mr. Anthony Sani told The Nation that replacing the 1999 constitution with a draft constitution from the conference would be undemocratic and against the interest of Nigerians who never gave the government the mandate to bring about a new constitution through a national conference of unelected delegates.
He said: “Northern Delegates are opposed to some aspects of the reports of the conference because they do not reflect the decisions of the conference. For example, Northern delegates do not share the wisdom of removing local governments from the constitution and from benefitting from the federation account and placing them under exclusive preserve of whims and caprices of state governments.
“This is because such an action would amount to scrapping the local governments. Yet, we all know that this is the closest government to ordinary Nigerians who have been clamouring for some autonomy for local government in order to free them from shackles of state government for performance.
“To now remove them from the constitution and place them under the exclusive purview of state government amounts to scrapping them to the chagrin of ordinary Nigerians.
“The order of procedure for the conference requires that decisions be by consensus or in the case of division,75% should prevail. But the leadership of the conference used voice vote to put northern delegates at short end of the lever simply because they were fewer than those from the South. The same goes for state police, but most of all was the draft new constitution which was never discussed at the conference.”
Mr. Sani said the inclusion of the draft constitution offended the sense of justice of most northern delegates.
“Making of a new constitution in a democracy is a serious business, and certainly not a tea party.
“As far as many of us are concerned, the conference has done its work of bringing some important issues into popular consciousness so that they are not ignored or forgotten by political parties whenever they articulate their manifestos for the purpose of seeking for mandate during the elections.
“Unless a political party includes a method of solution and later given the mandate by voters, it cannot reasonably do it without having included same in its manifestos prior to the elections which it won.
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